Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Fifth Season

There are five seasons in Chinese medicine. We are at the tail end of Late Summer now, which comes between Summer and Fall. It is the time of ripeness, of harvest, of plenty, of stillness and fading heat. It is a time of abundance, when all the Earth's fruits and vegetables are full and ripe. It is a time for slowing down and gathering in, a time for holding and appreciating the fruits of our labors.

Each of the five seasons carries associations with specific things - directions, colors, organs in the body, elements, emotions. The element of Late Summer is Earth, the color is Yellow, the taste is Sweet like ripe fruit and the bodily organs are Stomach and Spleen.

Not surprising then that the food of this time of year is so lush and abundant, and we eat so much of it. I am a regular at the local farmers market but this fall I've been haunting farm stands outside the city. It seems like things have been drawing me out of the city and into the farm country where every road has a farm stand. The produce isn't  always organic but it is always fresh and perfectly ripe.

We've had corn, tomatoes, zucchini, beans, peaches, and nectarines every way possible. I've eaten so much corn on the cob that I'm practically sick of it. Peaches don't move me any more, which seems so odd that I can't even believe I just typed it.

Yesterday I bought the first apples of the season from the Jerzy Boyz. They are a great couple who come to our farmers market and let you taste every kind of apple they have (I bet I've sampled 25 different varieties over the years) and tell you stories of the tree it came from. 

Now it feels like time to shift from peaches to apples, from zucchini to acorn squash, from haricot vert to Great Northern beans. Oh right, the autumnal equinox was last week.

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